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VeriSign's Site Finder is undead

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VeriSign is to relaunch Site Finder, its highly controversial domain typo redirection service.

VeriSign suspended Site Finder earlier this month, following an order from ICANN, the Net governing body, which claimed the company was in breach of its terms of operation.

Site Finder was launched in September when VeriSign applied a "wildcard" entry into the .com and .net Top Level Domain zones. This redirects traffic that would otherwise have resulted in a "no domain" response to the controversial search site.

In a meeting with members of an ICANN committee this week, VeriSign argued that technical concerns about the effect of the service on affecting the stability and operation of the Net were overstated.

VeriSign acknowledged that it introduced Site Finder without any consultation, saying that next time it will give 30-60 days notice. It also agreed to make certain changes. But the basic concept of Site Finder remains the same.

When VeriSign resurrects Site Finder, it plans to add a second DNS wildcard entry, called an MX wildcard, which will prevent email servers trying to send email to non-existent domains. It's also promised to offer local language variants of the site.

These measures cut little ice with critics who argue that VeriSign's changes are forcing other systems administrators to make changes to their systems.

One participant of the meeting, David Lesher, commented that of seven outstanding issues identified by VeriSign, only two require action by the company. He said this amounted to a 'Site Finder' tax, IDG reports.

Some network administrators adopted technical countermeasures, such as installing a modified version of BIND (the ubiquitous DNS Server software), to negate Verisign's wildcard changes. However anecdotal evidence suggests that these measures are not without their problems either.

Critics of Site Finder argue that Verisign is abusing its position as custodian of the .com and .net domain registry. Site Finder has also drawn legal fire from its competitors.

In September, registrar Go Daddy Software and search engine firm Popular Enterprises both filed lawsuits seeking a temporary restraining order against VeriSign. Both companies accuse VeriSign of "hijacking" surfers who get lost on the Web.

Similar flak can be expected when VeriSign relaunches Site Finder. Buckle in - it's going to be a bumpy ride... ®

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